Wesleyan University
#96 Overall Influence#34 Desirability Rank

Wesleyan University

Private liberal arts college in Middletown, Connecticut

By James Barham, PhD

Wesleyan University was founded in 1831 under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1872, Wesleyan led the way in admitting female students, an effort sometimes referred to as the “Wesleyan Experiment.” However, resistance to the experiment in certain quarters made itself increasingly felt, until the policy was reversed in 1912. Women were not admitted again until 1970.

In 1937, the university became officially independent from the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Today, Wesleyan is a fully secular, private research university. It comprises 46 undergraduate academic departments which offer more than 900 courses each semester. In addition, the university has 11 graduate-level departmental programs. Among its innovative programs we may mention the College of East Asian Studies, the College of the Environment, the College of Film and the Moving Image, and the College of Integrative Studies.

Wesleyan also has a highly respected world music program, covering West African, Caribbean, African-American, South Asian (classical Indian), Southeast Asian (classical Indonesian), and East Asian (classical Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) traditions, in addition to the traditional European classical music traditions, including contemporary and experimental music.

Wesleyan University is associated with four Nobel Prize laureates, namely,

  • Novelist, V.S. Naipaul for literature
  • Chemist, Satoshi Omura for physiology or medicine
  • Economist, Gary Yohe for peace
  • 28th US President, Woodrow Wilson for peace

In addition, in the early 1960s, towards the end of his life, the great Anglo-American poet, T.S. Eliot, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, worked as an editor for Wesleyan University Press.

Other prominent Wesleyan-associated individuals include the following:

  • Mathematicians, Edward Burr Van Vleck, Sanford L. Segal & Jennifer Tour Chayes
  • Computer scientist, Leslie Greengard
  • Philosophers, Robert Stalnaker & Daniel Dennett
  • Poets, Richard Wilbur, Donald Hall & Mark Strand
  • Non-fiction authors, Mary Roach, Sebastian Junger & Ariel Levy
  • Literary scholar, Seth Lerer
  • Actors, Alice Nunn, Bradley Whitford, Laura Fraser, Sarah Schaub & William Garson
  • Comedian, Vladimir Caamaño
  • Film director and producer, Michael Bay
  • Film director, producer, and screenwriter, Joss Whedon
  • Film and TV screenwriter, Mike White
  • TV screenwriter and producer, Matthew Weiner
  • Popular musicians, Amanda Palmer, Santigold (Santi White), Andrew VanWyngarden & Ben Goldwasser
  • Jazz saxophonist and composer, Steve Lehman
  • Operatic composer, lyricist, and playwright, Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Musicologist and classical composer, Neely Bruce
  • Gamelan virtuoso, Sumarsam
  • Experimental classical composer, John Cage
  • Physicist, Edward Bennett Rosa
  • Statistical physicist, H. Eugene Stanley
  • Geologists, William North Rice, Alexander Winchell & Gordon P. Eaton
  • Chemist, Wilbur Olin Atwater
  • Biochemist, Charles Brenner
  • Botanist, Albert Francis Blakeslee
  • Zoologist, Aaron Louis Treadwell
  • Neuroscientist, Michael Greenberg
  • Psychologists, Elliot Aronson, David McClelland & Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • Psychotherapists, Allan Hobson & Amy Bloom
  • Sociologist, Juliet B. Schor
  • Historians, Nicholas Dirks & Kate Cooper
  • Historians of science, Charles C. Gillispie & Gerald Holton
  • American studies scholar, John Stauffer
  • African American studies scholar, Saidiya Hartman
  • Economists, Steven M. Sheffrin, Kenneth D. West & Gary Loveman
  • Economist and political scientist, Charles Tiebout
  • Political scientist, Adam Berinski
  • Legal scholars, Naomi Mezey & Gabriel J. Chin
  • Radio personality, Angela Yee
  • TV journalist and political commentator, John Yang
  • Online newspaper publisher, Robert Allbritton
  • Former Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper
  • Current US Senator, Michael Bennett


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


IncomeAverage Net Cost

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown CT 06459

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

20 per 100k

Violent Crime

2 per 100k

What is Wesleyan University known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#35 World Rank #13 USA Rank
#38 World Rank #17 USA Rank
#48 World Rank #26 USA Rank
#82 World Rank #41 USA Rank
#92 World Rank #46 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#85 World Rank #46 USA Rank
#132 World Rank #48 USA Rank
#71 World Rank #50 USA Rank
Political Science
#99 World Rank #52 USA Rank
#98 World Rank #52 USA Rank
#161 World Rank #76 USA Rank
#208 World Rank #78 USA Rank
#221 World Rank #84 USA Rank
#158 World Rank #84 USA Rank
Computer Science
#1275 World Rank #400 USA Rank
Earth Sciences

Other areas of influence

#101 World Rank #76 USA Rank
Social Work
#104 World Rank #71 USA Rank
#124 World Rank #91 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#136 World Rank #71 USA Rank
#140 World Rank #111 USA Rank
#218 World Rank #155 USA Rank
#433 World Rank #191 USA Rank

Influential People

Who are Wesleyan University's Most influential alumni?

Wesleyan University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Philosophy, Literature, and Psychology. Wesleyan University’s most academically influential people include Daniel Dennett, Austin Warren, and Edward Thorndike.

Daniel Dennett
Daniel Dennett

American philosopher

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Austin Warren

American literary critic

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Edward Thorndike
Edward Thorndike

American psychologist

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Charles Olson
Charles Olson

American writer

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Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon

American director, writer, and producer

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Ram Dass
Ram Dass

American contemporary spiritual teacher and the author of the 1971 book Be Here Now

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Michael Bay
Michael Bay

American film director, film producer, camera operator and actor

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Adolf Grünbaum

German philosopher

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Robert Ludlum
Robert Ludlum

American novelist

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Gerald Holton

American physicist

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Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda

American actor and musician

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John Perry Barlow
John Perry Barlow

American poet and essayist

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